Guide Managing the Literacy Curriculum

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Or leaders might survey student attitudes toward literacy and learning to assess the impact of social and emotional factors on academic success or failure. The literacy team agrees upon a short list of important questions about literacy.

Teaching Financial Literacy For Kids

Collect data. Literacy team members make and carry out a data collection plan to ensure that they will have the information they need to answer pressing questions. Review and summarize data. The literacy team reviews all of the information gathered and summarizes the data collected relative to each of the questions posed. Make recommendations and inform stakeholders. Based on the information collected, the literacy team establishes a list of recommendations that define the expectations of school and community members around literacy and distributes a copy of these recommendations to all staff and community members who contributed data, so they know that their voices have been heard.

The next step in developing a literacy action plan is for the literacy team to investigate the current capacity of the school and the teachers to respond to these recommendations. Armed with those data, the literacy team can establish reasonable and measurable literacy goals. For each literacy goal, the team clarifies a rationale for its inclusion, develops action steps, and decides how the team will measure progress.

This goal setting and action planning becomes the data-based blueprint for the school's literacy improvement effort. The next part of the vignette describes how the DeWitt Middle School literacy team worked with a literacy consultant to conduct an inventory of school capacity and teacher knowledge and use of literacy strategies.

To determine students' needs, the consultant analyzed student performance data. But to make recommendations to address these needs, the consultant relied on the additional data about school capacity and teacher practices. The DeWitt Middle School literacy team worked with the literacy consultant to develop a school-capacity profile through several discussions about the school's current structures, policies, culture, and use of resources.

All middle school teachers attended a presentation about adolescent literacy and then completed a comprehensive survey about their current teaching practices and knowledge about content-area literacy support. Tim also provided the consultant with the results from the diagnostic reading assessment administered individually to all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

The consultant analyzed the data and provided a report that documented the implications of the data as well as a detailed set of recommendations for action in the areas of school structures, policies and culture, content-area literacy support, strategic interventions, and teacher professional development. An examination of various types of data helped inform the recommendations. Student performance data. Teachers and administrators were aware that the percentage of students not meeting standards in reading was high.

The issue was that students were not making a year's worth of literacy growth in a year's time. The majority of students were actually entering middle school on grade level, a tribute to the district's strong elementary literacy program. But without frequent, purposeful literacy support as part of content-area teaching and learning, these same students were losing ground while at the middle school. In addition, a small number of students had test results that indicated a need for more intensive intervention.

Data on school capacity. Data from the school-capacity profile revealed that some existing resources to support literacy were underused, such as the well-stocked library and the fact that 7th and 8th grade students had laptop computers. Other school capacities were haphazard, such as a lack of consistent policies about homework, lack of teacher access to reading assessment results, inconsistent use of writing rubrics, and a lack of common materials used to teach similar courses.

Teacher survey data. Once recommendations are developed based on the needs assessment, a different type of data is required to answer the question: What is the school's current capacity for supporting literacy? To find out, school leaders can inventory resource use and the structures and policies in place that either support or limit literacy development. In the DeWitt Middle School vignette, school leaders hired an outside consultant.

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Often an outside perspective or use of an externally developed, structured protocol can provide the greatest insight and an efficient process for developing a picture of the school's capacity. Another approach is to ask the literacy team to work with educators throughout the school to develop an abbreviated type of capacity profile and then discuss what is in place and working, what needs to be improved , and what needs to be put into place.

Classroom libraries Technology to support reading and writing instruction and assessment Parallel curriculum materials at varying reading levels for units of study Reading programs for learners with targeted literacy needs Multilingual print resources and staff support Literacy coach position Teacher professional development.

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Regularly scheduled reading assessments as part of students' educational experiences Transition teams that consider reading assessment information when determining student placement Weekly common planning periods focused on collaborative examination of student work Use of common writing rubrics to assess student work Teacher agreement by department or grade level to use common set of literacy strategies Expectation that ELLs use their first language when necessary to support literacy development in English and content area learning. Based on these data, the team can figure out ways to improve capacities that exist but could be better used to support literacy development.

Often these occur predominantly in five areas: time, technology, library, personnel, and schedule. Sometimes a brainstorming discussion is necessary to help transform what has typically been done into more effective support for literacy. For more ideas about how to use resources effectively to support literacy improvement efforts, see Chapter 9.

Management in the Active Classroom

Once the literacy team has created a school-capacity profile that outlines what capacities, structures, and policies can be put in place, the team will be well on its way to understanding the assets the school already has to contribute to the literacy effort. In the vignette about DeWitt Middle School, it was clear that data about teachers' current practices were central to developing the school's literacy action plan. Obtaining this information allowed school leaders to assess where there were gaps, plan the necessary time and content for teacher professional development, and focus the time of the newly hired literacy coach.

To determine how to best support teachers to improve literacy teaching and learning, leaders need data about current teacher practices, that is, what do teachers know and how do they currently develop literacy across the content areas? Answers to these questions will signal where teacher professional development and additional support are needed. They will also provide information about where strong instructional support exists for literacy development. To obtain good data about both, school leaders can survey, observe, and talk to teachers.

Manager of Middle School Literacy

Survey teachers about the literacy strategies they know and use, the frequency with which they use them, and the areas in which they feel they need more information. Survey data might also inform leaders of what types of writing and reading are typically occurring in each content area, leading to data-based policymaking. For example, if very little writing is going on, setting a number of required writing-to-learn assignments each week might be an appropriate policy response.

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Observe teachers during literacy walk-throughs and classroom observations as described in Chapter 6 and assess how teachers provide literacy support and what types of issues they find challenging. For example, a principal might observe that teachers are able to use note-taking strategies introduced in a teacher workshop quite easily but find it more challenging to differentiate the use of reading comprehension strategies to meet the needs of readers at various levels.

Again, these data can be used to promote schoolwide conversations or study groups about using multiple texts with the same unit of study or how to use literacy support strategies to help struggling readers engage with challenging texts.

Talk with teachers individually in goals conferences, in department or team meetings, or in focus groups targeted around specific literacy issues such as motivation and engagement. Listen for recurring themes around areas of frustration—these then become data upon which to base decisions for increasing certain types of resources and support.

For example, the literacy team might decide that ordering content-area periodicals is a valuable way to ensure the availability of relevant reading material for each content area. Or instructional coaching could be made available for those teachers who do not understand how to set up reciprocal teaching in their classrooms. A continuation of the DeWitt Middle School vignette illustrates how these principles might be put into action.

The consultant worked with the middle school leadership team to develop a literacy action plan that would guide the school over the next three years. Because the team had data about school capacity and teacher knowledge, the plan was practical and built directly on the school's strengths.

Michael Beveridge (Author of Managing the Literacy Curriculum)

It established goals in each priority area. Another goal focused on increased teacher knowledge and use of literacy support strategies in all content areas.

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To support teacher development, the school would hire a literacy coach, administrators would focus professional goals on literacy improvement, and teacher professional development over the next three years would focus on literacy. In addition, school leaders recognized that literacy interventions for students who were reading more than two years below grade level needed to be put into place and teachers providing that instruction would need additional professional development, given that the school did not have a reading specialist.

Some action steps in each priority area were enacted immediately. For example, teachers at the school prided themselves on the quality of their teaching, and when multiple copies of selected texts were made available for teacher study groups, many voluntarily began to increase their literacy knowledge. Because all 7th and 8th grade students had access to laptop computers, ongoing sessions of professional development in technology began to include ways to use computers to support reading and writing.

The schedule was changed to permit sustained silent reading twice a week beginning the following semester. Literacy interventions were explored, and the school purchased a reading program to meet the needs of those still struggling with decoding and basic fluency. Tim hired a literacy coach, and together they developed a grant proposal to support the work. When DeWitt Middle School received the grant, the whole staff was informed that literacy improvement would be the school's primary focus for the next three years.

A plan for teacher professional development was put into place that matched the data-driven recommendations of the audit report and incorporated the knowledge and strengths of the new literacy coach. Learning strategies, based on student needs, were introduced to all faculty, and Tim made it clear to teachers that he expected to see the strategies used when he did his walk-throughs. Having a plan made it easier to determine next steps and stay on track. School leaders have to know whether implementing the literacy action plan is helping the school meet its literacy goals.

Administrators and members of the literacy team should also determine if the plan needs to be changed or modified. To do this, the literacy team can create an inquiry-driven process for program monitoring by following these five steps see Figure 5. The literacy team begins the cycle by agreeing upon the questions to be answered; for example: Have we met this year's literacy goals? How will we know if a reading program is working?

How will we know if our literacy action plan is successful and for whom?